Summary: Paul looks at life without Christ and life with Christ in uniting people
The July issue of Christianity today had an article written by Timothy George, Is the Church Divided? He makes the statement, “Our visible disunity causes many unbelievers to stumble. The problem is not only division, but divisiveness, within congregations as well as between (and within) denominations.”
It is tragic we have division. I understand it is in other churches, other places, everyone here recognizes we are one happy family and we have love for one another. What a joy it is to pastor in a church where everyone gets along, and there is no disunity among us. We could just skip this message and go out to have an agape lunch, except we might run into people who are not like us, so it is best we understand what Paul is stating in Ephesians 2:11-22 so when we come across people who are disunited we can share the wealth of information we have gained.
Before we get into the unity, lets look at
I. The Gentiles Past Paul writes in Ephesians 2 starting at verse 11, Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men). In society there division, here we see the division of the uncircumcised, the Gentiles, and the circumcised, the Jews. The circumcision was done in the body by the hands of men. Isn’t that the way of division, for the most part it is man made. It could be the side of town you were born on, someone from the other side of the tracks, or by your bank account or lack of one, it could be the color of your skin or your sex gender, your nationality or religious beliefs or lack of beliefs. Division exists there is no getting around it. And people in society will use that division to either elevate you or put you down. Paul says there is division. The Jews said the Gentiles had been created by God to be the fuel for the fires of hell, that if a Gentile married a Jew, the Jews held a funeral for the Jew because they were dead to their family and friends. There was absolute division.
So we know the Gentiles and the Jews were divided, separated, but how. Paul continues in verse 12, remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
We see the following divisions…
1. They were without Christ. Remember Ephesus was noted for its worship of the pagan goddess Diana. It doesn’t matter what pagan deity you might bow your knee, you will always outside the unity of God and His Son Jesus Christ. There is only one road to heaven, the road of unity in Christ. Gentiles were not concerned as much with the afterlife as they were with their present life and their lifestyles displayed that disregard. Today it is no different, people who live Christ- less lives stand outside of heaven, no matter Jew or Gentile, and they have a Christ-less eternity before them, one of self condemnation for their life decisions. Paul said in verse 12, they were not only without Christ but …
2. They were without citizenship. The commonwealth of Israel held the blessing and Gentiles, except for those who were proselytes, stood outside the unity of acceptance. Without citizenship Paul states,
3. They were without covenants. In Exodus 6:7 God told the people of Israel, I will take you for my people, and I will be your God. There was a unique covenant which was sealed with Moses at Sinai. God’s covenant required an obligation for the privilege it brought being His people, they were obligated to keep the Law. It was not an issue of favoritism but of special responsibilities and the people of the world were aware they were God’s chosen. The Gentiles past did not include Christ, citizenship, covenants which meant in reality…
4. They were without hope. Sophocles wrote
“Youth’s beauty fades, and manhood’s glory fades.
Faith dies and unfaith blossoms as a flower;
Nor ever wilt thou find upon the open streets of men,
Or secret places of the heart’s own love,
One wind blows true for ever.
Sophocles, like the Greeks, like the Gentiles, knew there was a season to which they lived but in the end, hopelessness because they season was to fade away. They were without hope and sadly, the end conclusion…
5. They were without God. They had in their nations all kinds of gods, but not the true God. They said it was easier to find a god in Athens that it was to find a man.